The Right To Protest During A Crisis? Personal Freedoms Vs. Public Health

Apr 17, 2020

Lewis Trusler of Wilmington holds up a sign during a ReOpenNC rally in the parking lot on East Jones and N. Wilmington Streets in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, April 14, 2020. More than 100 protesters rallied to reopen North Carolina on Tuesday, describing Gov. Roy Coopers stay-home order as an unconstitutional overreach that will kill the states small businesses.
Credit Ethan Hyman /

Across the nation, governors are facing grassroots pressure to lift their stay-at-home orders. More than 100 protesters gathered in Raleigh Tuesday to demand that the state reopen for business.

Wearing masks and gloves, State Capitol and Raleigh Police watched over and eventually arrested one protester who was charged with a misdemeanor for violating the prohibition of the executive order banning gatherings of more than 10 people. Later that day, the Raleigh Police Department responded to a question about the arrest with a Tweet that said: “Protesting is a nonessential activity.” While Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin refused to comment on the legal basis of the statement, Gov. Roy Cooper took a contrary stance at a press briefing, saying his orders "do not interfere with people's constitutional rights to express themselves" and rather with "unlawful mass gatherings."

Host Frank Stasio talks with WRAL Statehouse Reporter Travis Fain about lawmakers’ priorities as public health, individual freedoms and the heightening economic crisis converge in North Carolina.